Labour: Ditch 'cruel cut' to housing benefit for young people

Posted On: 
5th March 2017

Labour has called on Philip Hammond to reverse the “cruel” decision to withdraw housing benefit from 18 to 21-year-olds in this week’s Budget. 

Shadow Housing Minister John Healey at Labour conference
PA Images

The policy, which was contained in the 2015 Conservative manifesto, was announced with little fanfare on Friday and will come into force from the start of April.

The Government has underlined that there will be “exemptions” from the benefits ban for the most vulnerable but John Healey, the Shadow Housing Minister, said the changes flew in the face of Theresa May’s avowed focus on people who are “just about managing”.

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“Ministers should hang their heads in shame as they look to legislate this cruel cut,” he wrote in a piece for the Sunday Mirror.

“They will find next to no one who thinks this should go ahead. Charities say the extra bureaucracy of working out who is affected means it won’t even save any money, while it has been reported that civil servants ‘hate’ the policy and see as ill thought through.

“This is exactly the type of Cameron-Osborne legacy policy that Theresa May declared she’d discard. If she really meant what she said on the steps of Downing Street last summer, she must instruct the Chancellor to cancel this cruel cut in the Budget on Wednesday.”

Mr Healey said axing benefits from young people would “fatally undermine” new legislation, led by backbencher Bob Blackman and backed by the Government, which places new requirements on councils to try to prevent homelessness.

The cuts would mean young people “run out of options” other than to seek help from councils, thereby increasing pressure on local authorities, said Mr Healey.  

“Unable to rent somewhere to stay or even qualify for a place in homelessness hostels, which also depend on housing benefit payments, young people will turn to good councils, both Labour and Conservative who will simply be unable to help them,” he argued.

The Government said the cuts would stop people “slipping straight into a life on benefits”.